SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — It’s very common to hear organizations encouraging dog and cat adoptions, but in South Euclid there around 300 reptiles and amphibians in need of good homes, too.
Herps Alive Foundation is home to animals like California kingsnakes, bearded dragons, lizards and Argentine tegus, and the need is bigger than the space they currently live.
“We take in unwanted, abused, neglected reptiles, amphibians and invertebrate (things like tarantulas and scorpions,)” said Keith Gisser, executive director. “We rehabilitate and then we attempt to adopt them out.”
They have about 325 animals living in the facility on Garden Drive, which means it is cramped but necessary for their mission.
“Our goal is to make sure when somebody walks out of here, if they're interested in possibly getting an animal, that they understand everything that's involved in getting that animal,” Gisser said.
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The sad fact is that some of the animals there have been surrendered, some were found and others had been mistreated.
“A lot of people will buy reptiles in the spur of the moment, whereas a dog or cat generally is going to be a more sizeable investment,” Gisser said. “You can buy some reptiles for as little as $20 or $30 at a pet store.”
He said sometimes people treat reptiles like replaceable toys instead of learning how to take care of them in the first place.
“We’ve been involved with so many law enforcement actions, where we take in 50 or 60 animals at a time.”
But it’s the team of volunteers giving their time to Herps Alive, that saves these reptiles and educates people on what to do and what not to do.
“Back then we didn't know any better. Most of the animals were caught from the wild. We kind of learned to care for these animals via trial and error, now we have proper vet techniques that are out there.”
Herps Alive also offers additional housing and services to animal control organizations that aren’t set up to handle reptiles.